Sunday, 28 February 2010

Over Achiever's Ruffle Dress

Sometimes I can be a bit too ambitious for my own good! I saw a little girl wearing a really beautiful simple dress a few weeks back, and at the time I thought 'I can make that!' so I kinda stalked this kid trying to see the detail in the dress and once I came home I sketched it out and jotted down a few notes.

I intended to make this for Miss C as I think its better for her age than Miss M. I measured Miss C and using the drafting knowledge I've acquired so far and Cal Patch's book, I drafted a pattern. I compared it with other dresses she already has, and tried the paper pattern out on her body, this led to a few changes and the 'final' pattern which I cut out of pale pink linen.

As I want the bodice to be lined with a facing I knew that the ruffles would have to be done first. (Of course using Disneys tute as she is the master or is that mistress of ruffles!)

Its a bit daunting to have to do the most complex part of the design first, I kinda feel I should break myself in gently rather than jump into the deep end, but there you go, such is life. It was rather tricky to get the two ruffles to measure the same size, (the original dress I saw had 2 layers of ruffles on each side but I felt that it was too much for the dress and too much for me!) by gathering them, in fact they are gathered but still too long for the bodice section so they are kinda pleated onto the fabric as well just to bunch them up. I sewed a basting line of stitches on both sides to hold the ruffles in place while I made the cover. I cut a strip of fabric and then created a bias strip using an iron and later added two buttons to finish it off.

I had major trouble putting the concealed zip in! I've never done one before and bought a concealed zip foot and had to do it 6 times before I got it even following these great instructions!!!! First couple of times I put it on the wrong way so you would have to open it from the inside! Ripped it out and tried again and I found that the stitching was too close to the zip so that the zip couldn't actually close as the stitching was fouling the zip. I eventually realised that the foot was adjustable so that the stitching wasn't so close to the zip teeth. I moved it all the way to the other side but I think it needs to be a bit closer than I ended up with. I then sewed up the back seam and I don't think its as neat as I wanted. I was concerned that the waistband should be perfectly matching on either side of the zip which I think its quite good but I'm not so happy about the way the seam covers the zip. Does anyone have any advice about how to make this better next time?

The next area to work on was the facing. I applied iron on interfacing to the facing and then tried to follow Deb Thompson's instructions on how to a attach a facing to a sleeveless bodice but I didn't manage to do it quite as well as her. I'm not sure if its because I'm working with much a smaller bodice and therefore the straps are smaller but I found the last stage of sewing the side seams up from inside very difficult. In the end I hand-sewed the gaps from the right side. Again if anyone has a good way of doing this or advice on where I went wrong I'd appreciate it!

This left the facing sewn in with the exception of the zip line. I then hand sewed the facing to the zip, any better way?
I had originally envisaged the facing being sewn into the skirt panel seam but because of the zip construction I'm not sure it would work that way anyway I ended up with raw edges from the bottom waistband seam so I covered them with some binding tape to neaten the ends, I then sewed the facing to this seam covering the top waistband seam as well. Hopefully this will stop any wear on these seams. Again if anyone has a better way of covering the internal seams I'd appreciate advice!

I finished the side seams with a french seam which is currently my favourite thing in the world. I had to made a decision on matching up the curve of the armhole or the waistband as I felt the armhole needed to match more the waistband is a bit out under the arm but I'm hoping that it won't be seen too much as its under the arm. I then hemmed the bottom which I think is a little too long but Miss C thinks its great!

In summary

Good parts
  • drafted a unique pattern for my daughters measurements, have never done anything so ambitious before
  • designed a dress!
  • inserted a concealed zip (need to improve the finish but ok)
  • used a facing to cover waistband seams matched up the waistband okish where it can be seen at the back, not so good on the side seams
  • ruffles - never done them before but worked well. Thanks Disney for your inspiration
Points to improve

  • Inserting a concealed zip, need to get closer to the teeth than I achieved here but not too close!
  • Using a facing on the bodice, needs to be neater
  • The pleats front and back should be closer to the centre line.
In summary, I think I done good, I've never designed, drafted, cut, sewn my own pattern before especially one that used techniques I've not used before. Its amazing what you can achieve when you don't know you can't achieve it!

I might give myself B- for this project, what would you give me?

Friday, 26 February 2010

Thank you Mr Fed-Ex!

Look what arrived today....

I found a new fabric retailer Chawla's which has such a huge range of fabrics at very good prices. They don't carry designer fabrics but loads of really good quality fabrics and a wider range than I've seen from many retailers! I thought I'd show you what I got......

Look at this loveliness!

This is a lovely pink linen (£5.50/m) which the camera hasn't shown very well. I'm planning to make a dress for Miss C with this, if it all comes off I'll show you soon!

This is a flannelette (£2.74/m) which I was thinking I might make nightdresses for the girls

This is a pretty poly cotton floral (£1.70/m!) which I bought loads of as its soo cheap. Not sure what I'll make with this yet but too lovely and well priced to let it go by.

This is a lovely Embroidery Anglais (£2.75/m) which is a nice lilac which again doesn't show very well, I'm thinking summery dresses with this.

A happy white with cerise hearts (£2.99/m)

This is probably my favourite, it just looks so beautiful (£2.99/m) and I'll probably make something for Miss M as she loves red but I think it would also look lovely as an applique fabric to jazz up something plain.

This stripey cotton (£2.99) is going to be used with the wadding below to make a cushion for the girls seats.

and the ric rac and daisy trim is just because you can't have enough trims!

FYI - I have no links to this fabric retailer at all I was just very impressed with the prices and range and wanted to share with others. I ordered late on the Tuesday and it arrived by lunchtime on the Friday using their Budget delivery option 3-5 days, and there were more immediate option if you are really desperate for your goodies!

Monday, 22 February 2010

Miss C T-Shirt Dress

I've been wanting to make a t-shirt dress for ages and sorting out the washing yesterday I spied a t-shirt of Miss C's that was a bit short and thought 'Ah-ha!' I dug out some fabric and Disney's(Ruffles And Stuff) posting and set about transformation.

Well it took me waaaay more than the 15 mins it took Disney but I have a number of lame excuses reasons for that:
a) I don't have a fraction of the skills that Disney has
b) I was using woven fabric rather than knit
c) I finished my side seam with french seams (never done that before but surprisingly easy and a much better finish, no more fraying seams for me!)
e) I don't have a fraction of the skills that Disney has
f) There are only 2 seams to sew and I had to rip them both out and redo!
g) Gathering is a bit harder than I thought, getting the gathers to distribute nicely and sew in a straight line is challenging!
h) Did I mention Disney is soo much better than I am?!

I think it looks quite good, it was just an white old t-shirt which happens to have a little embroidered flower which sort of matches the flower on the fabric, I was thinking of adding a ruffle or flower to finish the top but Miss C wanted to keep the flower.

She loves it btw, I can see me making more of these although I might not have twice the width of fabric to gather in, maybe 1:1.5 or 1:1.75 ratio.

(Miss M wanting to get in on the action!)

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Lots of Anchor loveliness!

I got fed up of not having the right embroidery threads so I decided to recitfy this, I won an auction on ebay to buy 264 Anchor threads!

I also got an organizer to, well, organise the thread!

and a bobbin winder to, well, wind bobbins!

I'm not sure how many bobbins you need to fill one of these boxes and not sure what gaps I have in the Anchor range but I'll soon find out!

Does anyone else their threads like this? How many threads does the large box hold? I think I'll end up spending many evenings winding bobbins before I get to the end and start stitchin.......

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Update..... I love my husband!

After the last post there has been a revelation! I said to OH, 'maybe the fuse in the plug has gone'. Off he went with his trusty screwdriver and a few minutes later my saviour came back and said all fixed! It was a simple as a blown fuse. I love my husband, he's so practical and helpful. So now I have a working machine again! I finished my test skirt and I'm really happy with the fit so now I'm going to make my spring skirts (hoping spring turns up soon!) from some Amy Butler fabric I bought and the fabric I bought at the craft fair last week! Whoohoo!

Doh doh doh doh..........

How frustrating, annoying, and downright unfortunate. I'm in the middle of drafting my very first skirt using Cal Patch's Design it Yourself, I've made my first toile/muslin and I've pinched, pulled, and pinned the waistline, I've transferred the changes onto the pattern, I've redrawn my darts, I've smoothed my curves (not sure I squared my corners now I come to think of it...) and I've cut the fabric, pinned the darts, sat down to sew them and............. I have no working sewing machine! You see I have two very old machines from the same brand (New Home) . Yesterday I got OH to take my better machine into the sewing machine shop to get it serviced (has been years!) so I took the power cable & foot pedal along. This leaves me with a slightly inferior machine and cable at home, certainly good enough to finish my test skirt. Now it turns out that one of the cables I have works on both machines and one of the cables only works on the machine that is now in the shop! Guess which cable I have at home? Yep that's right the wrong one! And guess what, the shop is closed next week so it will be 2 weeks before I can get the machine or cable back! How will I survive 2 weeks without sewing and without being able to finish my skirt draft?! Have you ever had a similar situation, a unintended sewing famine? How will I survive, I will have forgotten everything about this skirt by the time I get the machine back! I might be a gibbering wreck in a few days, its half term holidays as well! How will I cope?! Just as well I ordered some cross stitch stuff yesterday I'll just have to lay in wait for the postman to arrive!

Sunday, 7 February 2010


I went to a fair yesterday at the Brighton Centre at which I bought lot of lovelies which I thought I would share with you and some of the lovely exhibitors I met. The buttons above came from a local company called The Button Company which is based in Chichester. They make and dye their own buttons made from polyester rather than nylon according to the the lovely lady serving me. They had oodles of lovely buttons in different shapes and shade and very individual ones. I don't really need the buttons for anything specific but really wanted to buy some! The ones above remind me of jelly sweets and look scrumptious to eat so much so that they have been commandeered by Miss C to use in her sweet shop game!

There were some lovely fabric retailers there as well including Stitch Witch, Sunflower Quilting Corner, Eternal Maker but my absolute favourite was a tiny little stall run by a lovely lady called Fiddlesticks Fabric who runs an online shop through ebay. Her fabrics were so special and different, as she said her customers are slightly younger so they want fabric that's different. That means she has loads of cute, funky and different fabrics rather than lots of florals as you sometimes get from some retailers. She said she had only just got her new stock in from the US and hadn't even got it online yet so check out her shop in the next few days so more gorgeous lovelies (I know I will, just don't tell DH!)

Look at this!

How sickenly cute is this???!

a few close ups-

I'm thinking I might use this as applique material for the girls clothes as they are so stinkingly adorable!

I also bought 2m of this lovely flowery fabric from her. I just thought it looked so happy and would make a great spring skirt.

Which might get made using with the present I bought for myself which arrived in the post the same day!

I was tempted to buy this book after Florence raved about it the other day. I wanted to learn the basics of dressmaking and pattern drafting and this book looks ideal for that, it has basic patterns for skirt, trousers, t-shirts, tops and dresses although I'm not sure the dresses would suit my curvy frame but we'll see. I poured over the book last night (who though reading pattern instructions would be interesting!) and have lots of ideas. As I mentioned before I want to make a simple a-line skirt in beautiful fabrics like Boden skirts but without the Boden price! Ideally this book will give me by perfect pattern for a simple skirt so I can then experiment with all the lovely fabrics out there (Watch out Fiddlesticks Fabrics)!

My other purchases were not crafty or fabric but gifts instead! Some for me but also for MIL

This one is for my MIL birthday coming up soon.

This one is for me! and so are these........

and these.......

...and these!

I think that's enough goodies for one day, I better go read my book somemore so I can actually make something!